Image: Instagram/ xuetinger
Here we go again. Because the thigh gap trend (when you’re so slender your thighs don’t touch), the collarbone challenge (balancing coins in the hollow of your collarbone to show your thinness) and the belly button challenge (reaching an arm behind your back and around your front to touch your belly button) weren’t absurd enough, there’s a new body-shaming trend taking social media by storm.
Women in China are using a letter-sized sheet of paper, a size referred to as A4 in the office supply world, to measure their waists and post photos on social media channels like Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) and Instagram using the hashtag #A4waist. As if holding a sheet of paper up against your body to display your teensy waist isn’t bad enough, in order to take the A4 challenge on correctly you must hold up the 8.3 × 11.7 sheet vertically. Because holding it up horizontally and trying to hide behind 11 inches would be way too easy.
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As the trend grows and expands to other countries, it becomes clearer that women around the world have a lot to contend with in terms of body image. While some people may have naturally narrow waists, the average person won’t be able to accomplish this feat, nor would they probably want to. The dangerous message trends like these send to young women is that unrealistic ideals that promote unhealthy behaviors are not only ok, but something to aspire to.
The backlash has already begun with many users on social media posting their own reactions to the #A4waist challenge with vastly different messaging. Some are holding up poster-sized paper, some are holding up paper with notes begging others to stop the body-shaming trend and some are getting a little more creative, like Instagram user Julia Sherman who cleverly holds up her college diploma while proudly displaying her non-A4 sized waist. Holding up a piece of paper that displays your professional or academic achievement is one trend we can really get behind.
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